You might see your windows as two layers of glass fitted in a frame, but the reality is, they are much more than that. They are insulated glass units (IGUs) which consist of multiple panes separated by spacers that are sealed at the edges. And the invisible stuff between the panes of glass isn’t just air. The special filling inside can make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. Here is everything you need to know about what is sandwiched between the panes on your windows.
What is Double and Triple Glazing?
Double means two panes of glass, and triple means three. These types of windows have multiple surfaces you can add special coatings to, and spaces in between the glass that manufacturers fill with special gas. A few glass options include tints, laminates, reflective coatings, and low-e glass. Not only are IGUs exceptional insulators, but they also help to keep out unwanted noise, improve security, and block harmful UV rays. That said, replacement windows are a sizable investment. You don’t want to pay for upgrades on products that you don’t need. So here is a little more information to help you decide which type of IGU is best for your home.
What are Gas Fills?
When first developed, double-glazed windows had oxygen sealed between the panes of an IGU. But it ended up expanding and contracting too much with the hot and cold. Eventually, the seals would break down and the windows would not insulate as well as they should. This is why today, manufacturers typically use argon and krypton gas fillings instead of normal air.
So instead of oxygen, manufacturers pump special gas between the panes and seal it inside. These noble gases are colorless, odorless, and non-toxic. But they have more density than air and are not as reactive. Argon gas can improve the window’s u-value by 16% and krypton, as much as 27%. Of the two, argon is more readily available and more affordable. But while krypton is not as readily available and can be more expensive, it is even more efficient.
Disadvantages of Gas Fills
The trouble with gas fills is that due to the pressure differential, even a perfectly sealed IGU will leak over time. The inert gas will leak out, typically at a rate of 1% per year. As a result, the lifespan of your IGU can vary depending on the material and construction of the window. And differing conditions can cause a more rapid leak. Over time, the window will become less efficient and the worst part is, you may not even notice it happening.
How to Know if you have a Failed Seal on an IGU
A clear sign is condensation between the panes. This means the inert gas has been replaced with moisture-riddled air and the temperature differential has caused the moisture to condense. Your windows will keep fogging up until you get a replacement. A less noticeable sign that your IGU has a failing seal is the panes of glass will start to bow towards each other in the middle.
Windows in Huntington Beach, CA can account for some of the largest amounts of energy loss in your home. To help put a stop to that, ask a window professional about getting improved IGUs with either argon or krypton gas fills. They will tell you the pros and cons of certain products and which options work best for the local climate. Contact Seaport Windows and Doors today. Stop by 4201 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, CA 90720 or call us at 714-220-3939.